The pandemic fast-forwarded La Crosse County's online permitting process, with new digital permitting software coming soon. While they can still take walk-ins, but the zoning department says the majority are now done via email.
“We're probably doing 80% of our approvals now in that method,” said Aaron Lacher, Zoning Supervisor at La Crosse County. “You can complete an entire process without physically coming into our office, especially if you're a contractor who does say multiple builds. A really common permit these days is for solar panels. So, they know our process is really well because they do two to three a week. We can turn those around really quickly if we have everything we need without the need for you to come into the office property.
Lacher says in the next year or two, they will have software that would store contractor information. He's seen the biggest benefit to contractors who pull multiple permits a year.
Lacher's boss, Kathleen Farrell-Steward is encouraging contractors to make appointments and even do meeting virtually because it allows the staff to focus on you versus what they were in the middle of doing and having a line develop at the County building. “If you didn't want to come make a trip downtown, we have our conference room set up now electronically where Aaron can bring everything up on screen. You can pay by credit card.”
Allow 90 Days for Shoreline or Floodplain Projects
Farrell-Steward jokes that "shoreland" is a dirty word. "If you're working in a floodplain or shoreland add 90 days to any project for us to figure it out [how to work through] the ordinances. There's just less interpretation on what we can do with shoreland.”
She says federal codes regulate floodplains.
Other Changes at the County
- Jack Zabrowski joins the County from the City of La Crosse Planning Department to fill the role of Sustainability Planner.
- Brian Fukuda moves into the department as economic development and also manager.
- Karl Green got promoted within UW-Extension, leaving the local position vacant.
- Ron Roth, GIS Specialist, is retiring
- Dale Hewitt splits his time between land use and code enforcement